Preparing for the fair

It’s not just the larger livestock that have a potent odor, a first-year 4-Her taking a duck project says one of the things he learned about them was that they stink.
Grayson Ford, of Spencerville, said he did “lots of stuff” to get ready for his prefair interview Thursday in the Junior Fair Building at the Auglaize County Fairgrounds.
Filling out books for both his duck and boiler projects, Ford said he answered questions and wrote down information about poultry, including what they eat and their weights.
He said he’s fed them cracked corn and they stay in a large fenced in area with a pool.
A friend encouraged Grayson to take the project and he said he learned a lot, including not only that his mallard ducks stink, but they are loud and
that the female’s quack is much louder than the male’s quack.
“I’m excited about the interview, about talking about what I’ve learned,” Grayson said as he waited for his turn to talk to the judge. “I don’t know, but it will probably be easier than showing the ducks at the fair.”
Grayson plans to take a poultry project again next year.
Approximately 650 youth were interviewed on their livestock projects throughout the day Thursday.
Auglaize County 4-H Youth Development Extension Educator Beth Miller said the decision to move the interview segment of the judgings into the air conditioned Junior Fair Building was made in December but with an excessive heat warning ongoing for several days, everyone was thankful for the change from past years of interviewing the youth in barns.
“The interview portion is a prerequisite to coming to the fair,” Miller said. “They come in with their project books, review their records and talk to the judge about their animals and what they’ve done with their projects.”
Miller said this segment of their projects better helps the youth understand what they are learning and improves their interview skills.
“Those who do an exceptional job in the interview portion are recognized with a rosette for a job well done,” Miller said.
“It’s very important from the standpoint that when you talk to kids now who are entering college or adulthood, the interview skills they learn here have taken them a long way,” she said. “Employers interviewing for jobs say they know the kids that have been in 4-H because of the skills they have.”
Miller said beginning when they are 9, 4-Hers are interviewed every year for each project they take.
“It improves their confidence and they can see what they’ve achieved,” Miller said.
In his third year taking a market beef project, Austin Albers, 11, of Wapakoneta, said he still doesn’t like the interview portion of his judging.
Austin said showing his animals at the fair is definitely his favorite part.
“I fill out the book,” Austin said of how he gets ready for interviews. “It’s full of information and I answer questions in it and log what I do.”
Ashleigh Koenig, of Wapakoneta, has been taking horse projects at the Auglaize County Fair for five years. Her mother showed horses when she was in 4-H, inspiring Ashleigh to give it a try.
“I like meeting new people and learning new things,” the 18-year-old said, admitting that the interview portion of competition makes her nervous.
She read her book and studied information to prepare, anticipating questions about her horse and how long she’s been showing, as well as general questions about the project, including the parts of a horse and how to take care of one.
Linda Broering, who recently retired after 30 years as a 4-H adviser in Mercer County, was judging dairy interviews for the third year this week in Auglaize County.
She said she first questions youth on their knowledge of the 4-H program then asks them about their animals — their breed, age, how and what they feed them and general information. For older youth, she asks harder questions.
“It’s very important to make sure they are learning something, that they are getting a little more knowledge,” Broering said, noting that although when she started helping with 4-H here was no interview process, she thinks youth learn more this way.
“The 4-H program is very essential for these kids,” she said. “I think it’s a very good thing.”
She said their love of animals is evident in talking to them and she hopes they maintain that and some day come back to the area and get involved in the agricultural business.
Thomas Digiovanni, 14, of Wapakoneta, has taken dairy projects to the fair for five years.
He said he first got interested in the project through his stepfather who works on a dairy farm.
“I like taking caring of and feeding the calves,” Thomas said.
To prepare for the interview segment of his project, Thomas said he studied an information sheet and reviewed his book.
“I enjoy getting ready and studying, getting to know more,” Thomas said.
After the interview Thursday, Thomas said he felt he had done great and passed.
“I feel like the more information you know the better you can improve,” Thomas said.